If you assumed that Asian languages were the hardest to learn then you’d be right. Based on research done by the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, Voxy has compiled a nice infographic breaking down different languages by the amount of time it takes a native English speaker to achieve speaking and reading proficiency.
Unsurprisingly Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean come out as the hardest, requiring almost 2 years to learn. In the past I’ve tried my hand at the latter three, finding all extremely challenging although the Korean alphabet (Hangul) is far easier to learn than Chinese characters.
Given the growing prevalence of smartphones and tablets I feel there’s a lot of room for improving on the old rote language learning methods. Tim Ferris and Gabriel Wyner have written about approaches they’ve found successful in trying to simplify and streamline the process of language learning, although given that is a very personal thing, what works for one person wont necessarily work for another.